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Archive for the ‘Watch Out’ Category

Xobni reviewed… there’s more coming…

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As mentioned in my previous posting, I have been using Xobni and have loved it for a few simple reason… the threaded email is a bonus in Outlook though I use more of Gmail (our emails are on Google Hosted) threaded email, the people connected with the sender is a good way for me to quickly see who to cc / has been cced in the past email correspondence, and the last useful thing for me is the list of all the attachments from a specific sender all in one tab.

Here’s a review from Ars Technica on Xobni extracted:

Installed as a plug-in for Office 2003 or 2007 on XP and Vista, Xobni functions as a sort of contextual sidebar assistant that displays relevant information about each message and its sender, or a currently selected contact. I use only two fairly active accounts in Outlook, and Xobni’s initial scan of my e-mail didn’t take noticeably long at all.

At the top of the Xobni sidebar is a search panel that allows you to find contacts from your inbox and message folders, or search your address book. Just below is an “e-mail analytics” panel that displays activity of the sender over the past 24 hours, followed by a metadata dashboard that sniffs out contact information from the current message. Below these panels is a “Network” area that shows every person the current sender has sent messages to (combed from the messages in your inbox), as well as a Conversations panel that brings the popular new message aggregation paradigm to Outlook. At the bottom of the main Xobni sidebar panel is a “Files Exchanged” area which, as you might imagine, offers quick access to all the files you’ve exchanged with the currently selected contact.

Some coverage from around the web, including one from Bill Gates himself, dub Xobni as a social networking tool. After spending some time with it, I can see that angle to an extent. Social networking, by definition, means that there is a singular platform or website that members come to for meeting friends, exchanging content, posting photos, playing silly games, etc. But Outlook itself can’t really be considered a platform in the massive industry of e-mail clients and products; users are spread across platforms, web apps like Hotmail and Gmail, and desktop apps like Mail, Thunderbird, and much, much more.

However, Outlook’s massive market share—especially among businesses—can’t be ignored either, which is where Xobni may be able to shine as something of a social networking tool. The features I’ve covered here certainly can cross over into social networking territory, but after speaking with Xobni, social networking doesn’t seem to be one of the company’s top priorities (some of which we’ll get into shortly). Still, within an organization where most, if not all, employees are standardized on Microsoft Office and Outlook, Xobni’s features can certainly bring some social aspects to managing e-mail and interacting with coworkers.

What is interesting is the remark made by the Evan Solomon from Xobni at the end of the review article…

As with any useful product from a startup like Xobni, the money question is an important one if users or an organization considers depending on a tool like this in any capacity—and Xobni recently turned down an offer from Microsoft according to TechCrunch. I asked Xobni’s Evan Solomon about what the company’s future plans are for new features and monetizing the Xobni plug-in, and received some interesting answers. Evan said a paid premium version will be available in the near future that will offer features beyond the free version, which will always remain free.

Even also spoke of Xobni’s potential as a platform for Outlook integration. He couldn’t disclose any specific features right now, but he stated that the company has developed some unique APIs for utilizing third-party data within Outlook. “You can imagine,” Evan said, “the value of having Salesforce or LinkedIn data available alongside your e-mail without having to open a browser or even a separate view inside Outlook.”

Clearly, Xobni’s aspirations aim far beyond adding a few organizational perks to using Outlook. In its current form, however, Xobni definitely makes treading the sea of e-mail in Outlook a much more productive experience.

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Written by gooddealz

May 7, 2008 at 2:32 am

Posted in Watch Out

Microsoft Research… the biggest threat to competitors

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Microsoft has a world class research team spanning all over the places and has been instrumental in driving some innovation in the commercial realm. From the recent stuff like Photosynth, World Wide Telescope, Desktop Search and much more… The challenge I presume is converting those research into real world applications.

But I seriously believe with all the firing that Microsoft is getting lately from all over the place, linux and open source, Apple and Mac OSX, Google and the cloud computing / advertising model… it should accelerate those conversion from research into application. 🙂 

Written by gooddealz

April 21, 2008 at 2:23 am

Posted in News Only, Watch Out

Delivering on the total user experience… not knee jerk!

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Been playing with my wife iPhone for about two weeks now… and I must say, it has a fair bit of quirks on it and despite it being a pretty solid all in one devices (phone, pda-like capabilities, music & video, games and eventually 3rd party apps…), the basic phone function / expectation can really put you off sometimes!

Will do a simple review of the iPhone shortly…

Now, looking ahead, there’s another strong iPhone contender on the horizon and it’s from Sony. (It is a bit of old news and this has been out for many months…) Sony has some of the best hardware design for many segments but their software / programming has never been their strength. This time round, they are partnering with Microsoft on the OS for the upcoming Xperia… and I must say, it is a big risk to undertake.

On the youtube video or the commercial, the UI looks fabulous but as many of us know, those are demo / Home Screen UI stuff and not ACROSS the WHOLE UI design!!! That’s where it may falter if what Sony does is to have a skin on top of Windows Mobile 6.1 or later that will be running on the Experia but the underlying apps or UI across WM6.1 or later has not been customized!!! It will be disastrous and inconsistency will come in… pretty much like what HTC did with the TouchFlo add on to WM OS… It just fanciful but with no overall experience achieved. Microsoft better bucket up their UI for this version of WM that the Sony Xperia will be running on, else it would be another flop attempt to rush out something that seems cool but fails after the initial 5 mins with the devices. Another knee jerk reaction to iPhone…

experia

Click on the image above to go to the actual Sony site that will give you more info on the Xperia.

Speaking of the curve slider design… Hmmm… I shared with my wife on this last year after looking at some of the devices from HTC and not sure if I have written some blogs about it… It is exactly the same idea that the Sony Xperia have. But the fact of the matter is that, ‘layman’ design ideas pretty often comes from looking at something that we have NOW and taking a slightly different approach to ask what-else-could-we-have-done-better kind of questions and improve on it and thus one will find many similar ideas that came out around the same time… By virtue that many of us are looking at the CURRENT product line and working on the same improvement thoughts… I guess with a dedicated focus on research and design, like those design house (Frog Design comes to mind) one has to LOOK AHEAD 2-5 YEARS at what the design may be like and work on it NOW to lead the way…

Anyway… stay tune for the mini iPhone review…

Written by gooddealz

March 31, 2008 at 4:29 am

Picnik… you are amazing! Thanks to Adobe Flex!

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For the many bloggers / home user out there… getting a offline photo editing application can sometimes be pretty costly and even complicated. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of free ones out there, GIMP, Paint.NET… and they are pretty good for most average user… but how about this, something that is quick, easy, and free and it’s online!!!

Check out Picnik!!! Thanks to the power of Adobe Flex, the web world has changed!

Here’s the excerpt from the site:

  • Fix your photos in just one click

  • Use advanced controls to fine-tune your results

  • Crop, resize, and rotate in real-time

  • Tons of special effects, from artsy to fun

  • Astoundingly fast, right in your browser

  • Awesome fonts and top-quality type tool

  • Basketfuls of shapes from hand-picked designers

  • Works on Mac, Windows, and Linux

  • No download required, nothing to install

  • and more…

    The company that I work for now is heavily exploring and coding Adobe AIR / Flex stuff and man… it’s a totally revolutionary development platform!!! Any developer out there, you need to check it out or the development world you knew will pass you by in a blink of an eye…

    Written by gooddealz

    February 18, 2008 at 4:30 am

    Posted in Great Stuff, Watch Out

    iPhone has landed… in Singapore

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    Parallel importers… they really are fast to import the iPhone and are selling hot in Funan.

    Saw a guy buying one for SGD$1,788!!! Saw it with my own eyes and man, it’s a beauty, it really is.

    Held it in my hand man, it just feeel sooo goood!!! The build quality, feels sturdy, the interface… and touch… the flipping… iPod Touch or iPhone… Both are going to be very hot!!!

    Written by gooddealz

    September 21, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Posted in Watch Out

    Contents is King…

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    Based on a recent data presented by the Online Publishers Association and Nielsen / NetRatings, the percentage of people engaging in content reading is now more than ever before. Based on a four year long Internet Activity Index (IAI), which measures the use of e-commerce, communications, content and search services over time, it was concluded that activities like e-commerce and communications still remain popular, reading and viewing content has skyrocketed between 2003 and today.

    According to the data, about 34 percent of Internet users’ time was spent reading content in back in 2003, while content came in second to ‘communications’, which measured a 46 percent of Internet users’ time. Surprisingly, as of May 2007, OPA reports that those numbers have dramatically reversed! Content now came in at 47 percent of Internet users’ time while ‘communications’ came in only 33 percent.

    For many businesses out there, this is very important shift of strategy and emphasis on their online media. Not only is the importance placed on good design web site but more than anything else, a good quality content site will bring in consistent readers over time. The figures itself only confirms the shift in the behavior of Internet users from communications to content and some of the activities engaging users are like news reading, browsing listings, checking out information on certain products or services…

    Adding onto the trend are social networking sites that pushes the content readership to new heights. Under OPA’s metric, social networking are counted as content site and only email are classified as ‘communication’.

    However, it seems that e-mail’s popularity isn’t actually going down, but rather the availability of content to consume is going up. Within the company I work for, we consume more and more of our everyday lives online than ever before, by researching client information or reading up on the latest technology / design to help our clients stay on the leading edge (AJAX, Silverlight…)

    Many a times, when we meet with clients on web development needs, client would always place a lot of importance on the Branding / Design of the site, but rarely see the importance of putting in a good quality content to substantiate the overall package. We keep emphasizing to the client that getting
    a good content management system and well design site is not enough, but the support from top management to see the importance of getting a good writer (both internal or external) to write up the content for the site. Some have heeded the advice and are seeing the results of their site readership gone up over time.

    With Singapore launching its island wide Internet coverage this December, we will likely continue to see this pattern in the years ahead as people continue to shift their offline activities online and the importance of quality content on online medium is not to be ignored.

    Written by gooddealz

    September 13, 2007 at 5:15 am

    Posted in Watch Out

    Online Advertising… The Shift is here.

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    With Google’s USD$3.1 billion buyout of online advertisement company DoubleClick and Microsoft’s recent USD$6 billion acquisition of digital
    marketing company aQuantive, the world of online advertising is dramatically
    shifting into high gear.

    Both companies are moving rapidly into each others’ turf. Google, being a leader in the online search engine and advertising industry has in recent years, develop and acquire applications to bundle with its services (Google Maps, Picasa…) Microsoft, on the other hand has been a leader in building the entire computer industry around its Windows ecosystem and in recent years, moved a great amount of resources and acquisition to the online search and advertising market dominated by Google and Yahoo. Prior to aQuantive, Microsoft bought a company called Massive Inc for its expertise to insert advertisement into video games. Disruptive forces is happening in the software industry – where a shift away from desktop applications and toward applications / services delivered over the internet.

    Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect of Microsoft has made it clear the importance of Microsoft focus on ‘Software Plus Service’ paradigm in the recent press conference held. And more recently, they announced that Microsoft Works, a trimmed down version of their office application suite will be provided for free, with ads supported.

    From a personal point of view, Microsoft has not been the most innovative company in recent years to be the first to come out with applications / services but if you look at their history of acquisition and focus, you have to be very afraid when they do expand into a different industry all together. Microsoft has the tenacity and flexibility to adjust and align itself to new markets dominated by others and through play safe approach (letting others test and try out the market), and seeing the potential growth of the new market, Microsoft with its billions in cash reserves will make the second / third move. (remember Netscape in the 90s)

    Google’s dominance has come primarily from its prowess at making money from ads placed next to Web search results. Google snagged nearly half of all Web searches performed in the United States in June while Yahoo grabbed about 25 percent and 13 percent were on Microsoft’s search sites, according to audience-measurement company comScore.

    Some analysts see the search-ads market starting to stagnate and believe Microsoft’s bid for aQuantive, indicates a looming shift in online advertising.

    The early online search-ads have really propelled Google’s growth for the past four years and is starting to slow down… according to Gartner Inc. The next wave of growth is going to be big brands shifting their advertising budgets, still largely invested in newspapers and TV, into the Internet.

    The shift is here…

    Written by gooddealz

    September 13, 2007 at 5:05 am

    Posted in Watch Out